Entrepreneurship through the Junior Achievement Botswana Programme : realities and perceptions.
Though Botswana is regarded as one of the richer countries in Africa, it is faced with challenges experienced by other developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa such as poverty, unemployment and HIV/AIDS. Recession in the mining and agriculture sectors, which have been the pillars of the country's wealth, has caused the economy to decline. The National Development Plan 9 (NDP 9 2003/4-2008/9) is a five year national development plan for Botswana that states that 36.7% of the populace have incomes below the poverty datum line. Entrenched in the nation's Vision 2016 statement are two development goals aimed at poverty reduction; to create sustainable jobs and to develop human resources. The Botswana government has thus earmarked the promotion of small, medium and micro-enterprises as one of the measures to reduce poverty. This shift to self-employment would help create much needed jobs, contribute to the economy and improve the quality of life of the Batswana. The government's efforts alone will not suffice in this predicament. It needs the assistance of all stakeholders including the private sector and the general public. The purpose of the study was to investigate whether the Junior Achievement Botswana Programme is an effective programme for equipping the youth in Botswana with business skills with the hope that they would in turn establish businesses in their communities. The study focused on exploring the perceptions of the trainees/learners in the programme to establish if they felt that the training gave them the necessary knowledge and skills to boost their confidence and motivation to plan, start up and sustain business ventures. The perceptions of teachers and trainers involved in the delivery of the programme were also sought to establish the programme's strengths and challenges and to suggest how the programme could be improved. The study also employed an entrepreneurial test to determine whether the programme attracted teachers and students who have the desired characteristics for business. At the heart of this study was an attempt to articulate the role of education and training in preparing the youth for self-employment. Data was collected using both quantitative and qualitative data collection strategies. The data was analysed descriptively as well deriving themes and meanings. The study found out that the JAB is a good and informative programme that inspires the youth and instils confidence in them to believe that they have gained knowledge and skills required to be engaged in viable business ventures. They felt particularly confident about market research, production and marketing components of running businesses. However, the study also found out that the programme has deficiencies such as insufficient preparation of its trainees to access and manage finances, inability to develop networks for support especially once the students have left schools and are no longer under the comforting guidance of the programme facilitators. In addition, the study realised that the programme seems to overlook the role of monitoring, follow up, evaluation, networking and mentoring in training for entrepreneurship. Issues pertaining to partnerships and public relations also surfaced in the study. On the whole, the respondents in the study found the programme enjoyable and worthwhile and wished it could be extended to many others. The study also found that the desired characteristics for business as identified by the entrepreneurship test administered were possessed by fewer than 20 percent of the students and teachers. This may also have contributed to the low numbers of people who went on to start their own businesses.
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